We have a tradition of visiting a local orchard every fall who makes the best orchard. We talk about these caramels all year. The caramels I made last night exceed the legendary caramels by far.
I used this recipe: http://www.giverslog.com/?p=3168, by AmberLee. It's titled, HOMEMADE CARAMEL, my failproof recipe.
I used: 1 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup light corn syrup (11.5 oz)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/4 cup brown sugar (14.5 oz.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
On low heat, I very slowly melted the butter.
I added in the brown sugar. It was OK to plop the sugar in, but I did make sure to stir it quickly.
I kept the heat low for over twenty minutes while I stirred. I slowly added in the corn syrup and sweetened milk.
AmberLee makes a point of testing her thermometer. I confess: I had a hard time telling when my water was boiling (is it this bubble? is it now?). I just followed my thermometer's gauge. I used a candy thermometer that had a line at HARD BALL.
I very slowly raised the temperature and stirred continuously. It did take about 30 minutes, AmberLee recommends. At HARD BALL (244F), I took the bubbling caramel off the heat and quickly added vanilla extract. I kept stirring.
I had an 8*8 pyrex pan lined with wax paper, but worried that it would be too thick. We quickly lined a cookie sheet and I split the batch.
This caramel is soft, chewy and a blast of sugar. An amazing blast of deep sweetness.
BEST. CARAMELS. EVER